Belfast spending plans unveiled
Published: Thur, 28 Aug 2014
Plans for £69m Housing Executive investment outlined to Belfast City Council.
Speaking at the annual presentation of the District Housing Plan to Belfast City Council, Mags Lightbody, Acting Chief Executive said:
“The Housing Executive has always prided itself in having a close working relationship with local councils and it is important this continues with the new and much enlarged councils. This year is a period of transition for the new councils and in many ways that can also be said for the Housing Executive.
“2014 marks a turning point for the Housing Executive. Internal restructuring, which has brought greater clarity and definition between our landlord and regional strategic housing functions, is well advanced and we have embarked on a ‘Journey to Excellence’, a programme well underway which will ensure we deliver quality housing services to all our customers.
“There is a lot of work that needs to be done to meet housing need, improve the housing stock and provide support for the most vulnerable in our community. It is essential that this work is delivered efficiently, effectively and prudently, and in partnership with others where this makes sense.
“One of the main issues we face is the demand for social housing and the number of people deemed to be in housing stress across Northern Ireland exceeds 20,000. Last year, through our regional services, we facilitated the completion of 1,967 much needed new social homes along with 1,299 starts on site. This year, in partnership with the housing associations, we plan to start 2,000 new homes.
“Maintaining our stock of over 89,000 homes remains a priority for the Housing Executive and during 2013/14, through our landlord role, we were able to complete planned schemes to over 18,000 homes including external maintenance, kitchen replacements, heating installations and double glazing. This year we are investing almost £150m in our maintenance programme.”
Referring specifically to the Housing Executive’s investment in Belfast City Council area, Ian McCrickard, Belfast Regional Manager said:
“The Housing Executive has enjoyed an excellent relationship with Belfast City Council, both councillors and officers, working in partnership to deliver services to the people of the borough.
“We have a strong agenda for Belfast. During 2014/15, we will support the delivery of new social housing as well as investing over £69 million upgrading and maintaining tenants’ homes, supporting people to live independently, increasing the energy efficiency of homes and providing grant aid in the private sector.”
“Maintaining our stock is a priority for the Housing Executive and this year we will be spending £40.2 million on planned and response maintenance to Housing Executive homes. This will include the installation of double glazing to over 2,700 homes, new heating in 2,750 homes, new kitchens to 1,550 homes, and essential external maintenance works to 2,550 properties.
“We will also support those tenants who need help to live independently in their homes through the provision of adaptations. Last year we spent £1.495 million on both major and minor works, helping over 400 households live more comfortably in their homes.”
“As part of the Housing Executive’s Community Involvement Strategy, Tenant Scrutiny Panels have been established in our three Belfast area offices. The panels scrutinise the services they consider are most important to tenants in the local area and are undertaking some valuable work reviewing and improving housing services for local people.
Turning to Regional Services, Ian McCrickard continued:
“Through our Regional Services we will help meet social housing need through support to the social development programme. During 2014/15, in partnership with the housing associations, approximately 550 new units of accommodation are planned to start on site. Last year 672 new homes were completed and 39 schemes for a further 583 units of accommodation were started on site.
“We support the most vulnerable through the Supporting People Programme with just over £22 million for housing support services for 2014/15 funding 226 sheltered and supported housing schemes in Belfast.
“In addition we will provide assistance to help adapt homes in the private sector through Disabled Facilities Grants. Last year we completed 148 Disabled Facilities Grants with an expenditure of £1.1 million. We will also support improvements and repairs in the private sector through the provision of almost £2 million in grant aid and energy efficiency initiatives through both the Warm Homes and boiler replacement schemes, and, later this year, the new Affordable Warmth Scheme.
Ian McCrickard concluded: “Our local staff continue to provide a dedicated housing service to the Belfast City Council Area.
Our priorities will be to deliver a major investment programme for our stock, working with all agencies to deliver on our urban regeneration areas (URAs) and areas subject to the Building Successful Communities initiatives. We will be looking to improve services to all our customers through both our Journey to Excellence Programme and also through our Tenant Scrutiny Panels.
“I would like to extend my thanks to the councillors and officers of Belfast City Council for their support to the Housing Executive over the past year. We look forward to continuing to work with the new shadow council on issues of mutual interest in the coming year.”